Microsoft has launched a revamped Live Search API for enhancing search capabilities on websites.

Project Silkroad is an API  for Live Search that supports a broad range of open web protocols and technologies used to build Web sites, including RSS, JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), REST (Representational State Transfer) and XML, said Angus Norton, a senior director of Live Search at Microsoft.

Microsoft also is releasing third parties from previous restrictions on how they use the API, he said. There are no limits to the amount of queries sites can make and site developers can rank content how they want. Developers also can syndicate Microsoft's image search, news search and phone-book search and have "complete control within their site," Norton said.

Third parties using the Silkroad API also aren't required to run Microsoft Live Search ads on their sites, he said. However, if they do, they will receive revenue from a standard revenue-sharing agreement Microsoft has with search partners.

Developers can join a pilot programme to start using the new API on the Live Search developer site.

Microsoft's Live Search is third behind Google and Yahoo, and the new API is aimed at getting more third parties to use Microsoft's search engine to power their websites, Norton said, acknowledging that "there aren't many" sites using Live Search now.

He called Microsoft's decision to open its API and release restrictions a way of "democratising the [search] platform" in the same way it has allowed developers successfully use Windows and other Microsoft software as foundational technologies in the past.

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